When it comes to cows, I don’t think it’s much of a stretch to assert that the most iconic image we have is one with black and white fur.
Whether they’re roaming around the pasture, bells clanking, or hanging out under a tree in the shade, it’s hard to think of them as any other color even though there are plenty of those!
No matter what kind of cows you want, for dairy, meat or other purposes, there’s bound to be a black and white breed that will suit your needs.
I’m bringing you 22 black and white breeds below.
Table of Contents
A striking cow that is truly multi-use, kept for the production of meat, milk and also used as a draft animal, this Pakistani breed is typically stark white all over except for little splashes of black on their face, ears and sometimes on the belly.
Believe it or not, these cows are also used in competition as riding animals, and have a dedicated following in some parts of the world in show circuits…
They usually don’t have a lot of black to go along with that stark white fur, but they’re still technically black and white. In any case, truly a cow that can do it all, and quite pretty to boot!
An ancient Dutch heritage breed that has its lineage traced back to at least the early 15th century, it is still going strong today used for both milk and dairy products and also for meat.
These cows are notably black all over except for bright white contrasting patches of fur that they get on their chins, the underside of the neck, face, and around their eyes.
Their name actually translates to “blister head,” sort of a nickname about these white patches.
Don’t worry, these healthy cows don’t really get blisters; it is just referencing the fur!
Another Dutch breed, these cows slowly underwent a transition from being raised predominantly for milk and associated dairy products to being used for the production of beef as newer breeds started to greatly surpass them when it came to the production of milk.
Sometimes referred to as the “Dutch Belted,” that is the clue about the appearance of their fur.
These cows have black hindquarters and back legs, black front legs and a black head and neck, with their midsection being a contrasting white all the way around, including the belly.
These cows are still around and still looking good today, and are sometimes employed as dual-use by smaller farms.
An old Russian breed, but unfortunately one where much of its information about its lineage has been lost to the ravages of time.
These cows are relatively rare today, but they are known to be a superlative dairy breed, producing a good quantity of extremely rich, high-quality milk.
And because it’s on this list, you know it has that distinctive, classy, black and white coloring.
Yaroslavls are almost entirely black, except for a few white patches between the rear legs and front legs on the belly.
Also, they usually have a face that is white all over except for dark circles around the eyes and a distinctive, black snout. I think they are quite handsome, myself!
5. German Black Pied
A relatively recent crossbreed developed in the 1960s, the German Black Pied looks for all the world like a smaller Holstein and is bred for the same purposes: incredible, immense production of milk!
These cows are still stocky for their size, and they have the soft features of their larger cousins along with small horns.
They also possess that indescribably beautiful pattern of black and white from front to back. Truly gorgeous, and excellent producers of milk.
Considering they’re so much smaller and faster to breed compared to Holsteins (which I talk about below), they make a great choice for space-conscious ranchers and farmers. One of my favorites.
The Brahman is a unique cow that’s sacred throughout India and Hindu culture.
These cows possess a dusky off-white coloration interspersed with patches of light gray and dark gray, with the latter being so dark that it sometimes appears black.
They’re most easily distinguished by the protruding lumps of fat on top of their shoulders that sort of resemble the hump on a camel.
These are not merely decorative, and actually serve a very important purpose: both as reservoirs of nutrients and also moisture, since this breed hails from a climate that’s extremely harsh where food is often scarce.
The Lineback, also referred to by its full name of American Lineback, is the result of lots and lots of interbreeding, and has only recently obtained its own breed association to begin keeping track of them.
Containing DNA from Friesians, Herefords, Milking Short Horns, Longhorns and other cows, the result is a dual-purpose breed that’s well-suited for producing beef and milk in abundance.
These cows also inherited a truly distinctive pattern, with solid black flanks marked by patches of white on the head, chest and spine that are typically speckled or seasoned with smaller, irregular black spots.
A newer breed, but definitely an attractive one that’s still highly productive.
A Brazilian breed renowned for its superior health and disposition in hot, humid climates, and also for its excellent grazing capability.
So long as you put the Giorlando on adequate pasturage you’ll hardly have to provide them with any supplementary food.
This is another breed that’s sometimes mistaken for Holsteins when found outside of its native country. They are mostly white, but I have lots of black patches and adjacent speckles all over them.
One easy way to tell is the build; these cows are taller and somewhat lankier than Holsteins, and they’re horns typically curve gently upward and back.
All this talk in comparison with the Holstein, I guess it’s about time to actually put them on our list.
Most folks who know anything about cows at all are already familiar with the Holstein, also known by its full name, the Holstein-Fresian.
These cows are pound-for-pound the best milk producers in the world, and they produce tons of milk with relatively little feed.
The Holstein is considered the most iconic cow, or at least the most iconic dairy cow, for a reason as it has that mingled, all-over black and white coloration, though the heads of these cows are typically white, running from the crown of the brow down to the tip of their nose.
Beautiful, big, and producing tons of milk over a long milking lifespan, it is still the undisputed champion of dairy cows.
10. Bretonne Pie Noir
A distinguished, fancy name for an equally fancy cow. The Brettone Pie Noir hails from France and is a truly small breed, although not a genuine miniature cow.
There are good foragers, and sure-footed, well at home on rocky, uneven terrain. Historically kept as dairy cows, this is a purpose that they continue to serve today.
It’s worth mentioning that there used to be quite a few sub-breeds of this cow that came in all sorts of different colors, including a bold red and red and white, though these have since gone extinct.
It remains to be seen if specialty breeders will try to resurrect these colors…
Among the most popular French breeds, the Normande is world-renowned for the quality of its milk and subsequent dairy products, including cheese, butter, yogurt, and more.
But, one shouldn’t sleep on them as a beef cow, either, as those in the know will tell you: this breed usually shows superlative marbling and meat of excellent quality.
The Normande shows many color variations, all of them piebald, but perhaps the most well known is the classic black and white pattern.
12. Texas Longhorn
If there is any breed of cow that is truly deserving of its name, it has to be the Texas Longhorn.
Possessing immense horns that grow outward and curl up slightly, the span of this monster rack is usually longer than a man is tall.
But despite these immense weapons, longhorns are known for having pleasant, gentle attitudes and being easy to handle.
These cows are becoming more coveted in recent years due to the quality of their beef, something they produce a lot of.
It’s also worth noting that longhorns come in all sorts of different colors, but one of the most distinctive, and popular is white and black.
Generally, whole quadrants of the cow’s body will be white, and other quadrants will be black, sometimes with large adjacent patches of black.
Longhorns are beautiful and absolutely impressive cows!
Another Indian breed with a big hump on its back, and a hump for the same purpose as the Brahman, the Umblachery is a rare cattle breed that is still bred today primarily as a draft animal.
They are a common sight in many parts of India used for pulling plows, wagons and other equipment. However, they are still reliable if sparing producers of milk.
These cows are also notable for their large, upswept horns and a top to bottom black-and-white appearance; black up top, fading to speckled patches of black that transition into white on the belly, flanks and legs.
They also usually have a white snout!
14. Belted Galloway
Another belted breed, these stocky, medium-sized cows are notable for their longer fur, extraordinary cold resistance and being excellent producers of high-quality beef.
These cows are black up front and in the back, with a uniform, thinner band of white around the midsection it goes all the way around the belly and back.
What’s one more Indian breed between friends? The Kherigarh is another unique cow that’s notable for its stout horns, loose, droopy skin and camel-like hump that stores vital nutrients, calories and moisture when times are tough.
They also have a somewhat ghostly coloration, being a deathly pale white color pretty much all over, with a patch of black along the withers and hump, and a mascara-like marking of black close around the eyes and on the very tip of the snout.
I think it makes them look almost skeletal. Very spooky!
These cows are also perfect for heavy work, being commonly raised as draft animals though they are capable milk producers.
Sometimes called the Guzerat or Gujera, this is yet another Indian breed and, I promise, the last one on our list.
Much like the aforementioned Kherigarh, these cows have stout horns, loose skin and a large hump of fat above their shoulders that stores water and nutrients that will help them survive food and water scarcity and the generally harsh conditions in which they usually live.
But unlike the previous specimen, these cows are specifically bred for beef and milk production, and they are moderate producers of both though they are still used as draft animals because of their powerful build.
Interestingly, this breed did not come originally from India, but was first bred from Portuguese stock in South America.
The breed with its specific origins shrouded in mystery and lost to time, today we know this as one that nominally hails from Pakistan.
This breed of cows is greatly beloved for its beauty- it looks just like a Dalmatian dog, white with crisp black spots all over!
These cows also have a hump of fat on their back like some of the other cows on our list, though it is noticeably smaller.
They also have loose, droopy skin, especially around their forequarters and neck
But this cow isn’t just kept for its good looks: is a true multi-use breed, raised for milk and beef alike, and also put to work as a draft animal capable of pulling heavy plows and carts, and sometimes used in teams to pull wagons or other heavy equipment.
If we were going for sheer size alone, the Chianina would be the first and undisputed winner of this list.
These are pretty much unanimously agreed to be the biggest cows in the world, standing as tall or taller than a man at the shoulder and weighing several thousand pounds.
These are truly remarkable specimens, and they’re also an ancient breed, having come down from older European stock that was used as draft animals for pulling massive amounts of cargo.
Today they are, quite obviously, bred and kept for meat but also as a heritage or special interest animal.
Chianinas are typically a dusty off-white color, except for the tail and sometimes patches on their hind legs which are jet, glossy black.
19. Belgian Blue
The Belgian Blue is a remarkable animal, though I think it is a little sad.
Bred to be incredibly muscular, these cows are instantly identifiable from their sculpted, rippling physiques, although it isn’t the result of spending a lot of time on the track…
It’s a genetic condition that they have inherited called hyperplasia, and this is actually deliberately bred into these cows in an effort to produce a beef cow that could not be beaten when it comes to production.
They get their name, Blue, from their interspersed, speckled coats of white and black, which are so finely grained that they appear dark blue on some sections.
Some of these cows have such coloration basically all over, giving them a solid, steel blue appearance.
20. British White Park
Another truly ancient breed that has been on the British Isles for many millennia, the British White Park is instantly recognizable for its brilliantly white fur, long horns and it contrasting black markings typically on the noses, ears and rumps, although many individuals will still show black patches elsewhere on their body.
Even though they are very old, there aren’t too many of these cows around today, and they are kept mostly on small farms or in herds by specialist breeders which sell them to discerning customers, typically for their meat.
This is a truly beautiful heritage breed with a distinguished history, and one that has come down through the many long years virtually unchanged.
21. Mini Zebu
The cutest and coolest cow on our list, bar none. The Mini Zebu is, as its name suggests, a miniature cow and typically kept as a pet, show cow, or companion animal.
Even so, this has not stopped some people from raising them for milk and meat alike, and their milk is said to be incredibly rich making it ideally suited for ice cream and other dairy products.
Mini Zebus have an ashy off-white and dark gray coloration, with the darker markings typically being towards the head and neck and the hindquarters.
A rare Spanish breed that is raised for meat, one sub-breed of the Albera is notable for being pitch black from front to back with the exception of white highlights on the ears and snout. Definitely a distinctive look!
Well adapted to cold, dry climates, sadly the Albera is an endangered breed, and there aren’t many left either in the wild or in private hands.
Currently some special interest groups are working to catalog the lines and keep them going, but its future is uncertain. I hope they make it, they are definitely cool cows!
Tom has built and remodeled homes, generated his own electricity, grown his own food and more, all in quest of remaining as independent of society as possible. Now he shares his experiences and hard-earned lessons with readers around the country.